Missing persons case: Police can act against servicemen, states SC

Counsel argues army has a special status in the Constitution.

Our Correspondent July 12, 2013
Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


A Supreme Court bench on Thursday observed that the law does not stop the police from booking armed forces officials for their highhandedness.

The two-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Jawwad S Kahwaja, is hearing the petition, filed by a woman, Abida Malik, whose husband Tasif Ali went missing on November 23, 2011 from the Sadiqabad police precincts in Rawalpindi.

The Supreme Court Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan has made it clear that Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc) or any other law does not restrict police from registering cases against serving armed forces officers.

During the hearing, Ibrahim Satti, the counsel for Military Intelligence (MI), told the court that the armed forces officials take oath of allegiance to the country and not to defend the constitution.

He also stated that former army chief Pervez Musharraf’s oath was not under the constitution.

Satti said that laws related to the Pakistan Army could be declared as void by the apex court on the basis of fundamental rights. However actions taken by the armed forces were also protected under the constitution. He claimed that armed forces had a special status in the constitution.

Upon this, Justice Khawaja remarked that every citizen had a special status in the constitution and everyone was loyal to the state.

The counsel said that more than 500 suicide attacks were committed in the country.

Justice Jawwad asked: “I want to know who these persons (suicide attackers) are, as I think huge amount is being spent on intelligence agencies in this regard.”

Satti said that these suicide attackers might be the missing persons.

He also referred to the Article 63(1) g, which says that a person would be disqualified from the membership of National or provincial assembly if he criticises the army and higher judiciary in a manner which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the armed forces.

The counsel contended that applications about the missing persons in the commission and SC were ridiculing the Pakistan Army. He also said that armed forces officials were performing duties for the protection of borders.

Upon this, the court told him that they were being paid for performing duties.

Justice Jawwad S Khawaja also said that they were more concerned about the integrity of the Pakistan Army; therefore, they had expressed concern over the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances in Islamabad, which has raised the figure of missing persons in detention of spy agencies.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.